East Village street co-named for men who died in explosion

Alfredo Locon, the brother of Moises Locon, speaks at the ceremony while flanked by local elected officials. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Two men killed in the gas explosion on Second Avenue at East 7th Street in 2015 have been memorialized with a street co-naming on the block.

The new signs up at the location designate East 7th Street between Second and Third Avenues as “Moises Locon Way” and the block of Second Avenue between East 7th and 8th Streets as “Nicholas Figueroa Way.”

On October 14, City Council Member Rosie Mendez held a ceremony to announce to unveil the sign, attended by family members of Locon and Figeuroa.

Moises Locon’s brother, Alfredo, was at the event and read a letter from his seven-year-old daughter, Stephanie.

“I miss you and my dad is so sad,” she said in her letter. “We have you in our heart.”

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DEC: Contaminant recovery wells won’t be intrusive

Nov9 DEC meeting cross and macneal.JPG

New York State Department of Conservation project managers Gardiner Cross and Doug MacNeal at a public meeting last Wednesday (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel 

With a contaminant recovery plan having been proposed for Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, representatives from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) addressed concerns of residents last week at a public meeting.

This included making assurances that wells the DEC and Con Edison plan to build in ST/PCV to collect the leftover chemicals so they can be disposed of wouldn’t be intrusive. Con Ed has been working with DEC on what’s been referred to as a “remediation” for the site, which was once home to a manufactured gas plant (MGP).

The DEC had actually directed Con Edison to begin remediation for this project back in 2011. However, DEC project manager Doug MacNeal said during the meeting that the process was delayed for the last five years because of the changes in ownership at ST/PCV.

MacNeal said that exact locations haven’t been determined for the wells yet, but Council Member Dan Garodnick, who was also at the meeting, which held at Beth Israel last Wednesday, said that he would push DEC to site them as far away as possible from doors, windows and playgrounds.

One possible location for the wells, of which there will be 10 in Peter Cooper and six in Stuy Town, would be inside the garages. Meeting attendees burst into laughter when geologist and DEC project manager Gardiner Cross said that this was because the garages already have good ventilation. However, MacNeal backed up his statement, explaining that to be up to code, a garage has to have a functional ventilation system. If it doesn’t, he added, residents should contact DEC.

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UPDATED: Con Ed recommends putting wells in ST/PCV to recover contaminants from former gas plant

Mar13 Con Ed

The gas works and storage tanks of Con Ed’s predecessor company in 1890. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

UPDATE: Con Ed has changed the date and venue of the upcoming meeting. It will be on Wednesday, November 1 at 7 p.m. at Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Podell Auditorium in the Bernstein Building, 10 Perlman Place, one block west of First Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets, according to an email sent to neighbors from the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association.

By Sabina Mollot

As most people who live in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village know, the property is the site of the former Gashouse District, named for the Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) stations and facilities run by Con Ed and its predecessor companies.

In recent years, the utility has been conducting an investigation in and around ST/PCV, looking for contaminants in the ground, groundwater and air. The investigation is being coordinated with the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the State Department of Health.

According to the study’s findings from investigations in 2006 and 2008, contaminants were found, but located deep in the ground (at least five feet) with most even lower, and in groundwater beneath the site, though that water is not used for drinking. MGP residential levels tested in the air indoors were found to be typical. Outdoor air samples collected were also found to be normal for an urban area. Because of this, Con Ed said in an advisory this week that it’s unlikely people will come into contact with these contaminants, though air monitoring will continue.

Still, the company is now proposing a “remediation” (cleanup) plan for the site that involves, among other things, the placement of wells.

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Con Ed crew at work on East 14th Street in wee hours on Tuesday

Con Ed trucks on East 14th Street (Photo by Sherman Sussman)

By Sabina Mollot

With construction a constant in Manhattan, some residents have the misfortune of hearing trucks back up, pile drivers pound and re-directed motorists curse as the soundtracks to their day. However, one resident of Stuyvesant Town, who lives down the street from the Extell development site and across the street from Con Ed, reached out to us after being woken up at 2:45 a.m. on Tuesday due to work crews on the street.

According to Sherman Sussman, it was at that time that he saw a crew in Con Ed trucks doing non-emergency work in front of 635 East 14th Street. He knew it was non-emergency work after heading downstairs and speaking with the foreman. There were also other trucks idling for over 15 minutes by then, he told us.

“We have been putting up with construction noise both from the site on 14th Street and Avenue C as well as the L train tunnel reconstruction and some sort of Water Authority construction at East 13th Street and Avenue C for months,” he said in an email. “Work often starts at 6:30 a.m. It has become our alarm often for six days a week, not that there aren’t the occasional Sunday mornings!”

As for Con Ed, since the area that is being worked on is already blocked off from traffic, Sussman said he couldn’t understand why it couldn’t be done when the other projects, or rather, “the usual cacophony of noise,” begins each day.

In response to his request, Town & Village reached out to Con Ed, where a spokesperson, Sidney Alvarez, confirmed that the work wasn’t due to an emergency but was affiliated with the ongoing L train reconstruction project that’s already taken over an island on East 14th Street. Other agencies besides the MTA were also involved.

Specifically, the work was aimed at cleaning a manhole with a vacuum truck, which was likely the source of the noise. Alvarez said the reason it was being done at night is because if it were to be done during the day, the project would require closing off or redirecting traffic, which would require a permit. However, he added, following Town & Village’s query as well as the Con Ed crew’s verbal “exchange” with Sussman, work times will be shifted from the current, wee hours to 3-11 p.m., although Alvarez admitted he didn’t know how soon the schedule would reflect this decision.  Alvarez was also unsure of why the manhole needed cleaning but said there could be a number of reasons, like dialectic (mineral) fluid or debris getting inside.

Con Ed continues oil spill clean-up

Con Ed substation in Manhattan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Con Edison and environmental contractors have continued a clean up effort this week after insulating oil leaked into the East River when a transformer in a Brooklyn substation failed last Sunday.

Spokesperson Allan Drury told Town & Village that the utility has removed 560 gallons of the oil from the water, and Con Edison is also removing soil from the substation that has soaked up oil from the spill.

Since heavy rain is forecast for this weekend, Con Edison will also be securing the impacted area around the transformer so there is no additional saturation that could cause more oil to seep into the river.

Con Edison is working to remove the damaged transformer and expects to replace it with a new unit by next week.

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Oil spills into East River after Con Ed transformer failure

May11 Con Ed

Con Ed substation in Manhattan (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

A failure of equipment at a Con Ed substation in Brooklyn has led to a so far unknown amount of oil to leak into the East River.

The U.S. Coast Guard has been responding to the problem since it was reported on Sunday afternoon, though as of Tuesday afternoon, it was unclear if the substance, dielectric fluid, was still leaking into the river in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

The fluid, which is used to insulate transformer cables, is a kind of mineral oil, so “It’s not like sludge or petroleum,” said Coast Guard Public Affairs Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy. However, she added, “It’s still not native to the environment it’s leeching into.”

Additionally, while the Coast Guard is not aware of just how much of the oil has been spilled so far, she referred to the failure of a Con Ed transformer that led to the incident as “catastrophic.

“The transformer is caput,” she added.

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Gas finally back on at Frank’s

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Frank’s Trattoria, the First Avenue restaurant and pizzeria that had been operating without gas for eight weeks, finally got it switched back on. The gas came back on last Wednesday afternoon, which meant that once again the owners, the Pino family, were able to make pizza and other foods that couldn’t be prepared efficiently using just electric stoves.

Restaurant manager Marcello Vasquez told Town & Village once the gas came back on at around 2 p.m. word quickly got around and the restaurant got busy again.

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First Avenue restaurant hasn’t had gas in eight weeks (UPDATED)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Frank’s Trattoria on First Avenue (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

UPDATE at 3 p.m.: According to the manager, the gas was turned on at 1 p.m. today and pizza is once again available.

By Sabina Mollot

At a pizzeria and restaurant across from Peter Cooper Village, a gas shutdown is responsible for taking the business’s bread and butter for the past eight weeks.

That’s when the gas was shut off at Frank’s Trattoria by Con Ed, and since then the First Avenue business has been able to cook some of its dishes after bringing in four electric stoves, although pizza still can’t be prepared there. A manager, Marcello Vasquez, told Town & Village pizza accounted for close to half of Frank’s business. As for the other meal options, the restaurant’s lost business there too because it takes longer to cook with the electric stoves and customers aren’t always willing to wait, Vazquez explained.

He added that the problem started when a building on the corner of East 21st Street had a gas leak on December 18, leaving the restaurant, between East 21st and 22nd Streets, with inadequate gas to cook with. The owners called Con Ed who said the leak was coming from Frank’s and said the restaurant needed a new meter. The gas was then shut off.

But Vazquez now believes it was a mistake to call Con Ed instead of first calling a plumber. The restaurant did later have a plumber come and replace the pipes. The employee said on Friday he was since told that the gas could come back on Monday or Tuesday. “But,” he added, “we already have seven weeks. This is crazy.”

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Con Ed driver who fatally hit woman from Stuy Town found guilty of careless driving

Driver sues DMV over agency taking too long to restore license

Four days after Stella Huang was hit by a Con Ed truck in 2013, the area at 16th Street and Avenue C is coned off. At that time, a streetlight there was broken. (Photo by Lawrence Scheyer)

Four days after Stella Huang was hit by a Con Ed truck in 2013, the area at 16th Street and Avenue C was coned off. At that time, a streetlight there was broken. (Photo by Lawrence Scheyer)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Con Edison employee who fatally struck an elderly Stuyvesant Town resident on Avenue C at East 16th Street in 2013 had his license revoked this past August as a result of the incident. He’s since filed a lawsuit because he felt that the Department of Motor Vehicles wasn’t processing his application to reinstate his license quickly enough.

Streetsblog NYC reported on Tuesday that the driver, Andrew Franco, was found guilty of careless driving, meaning that 88-year-old Stella Huang likely had the right of way when Franco hit and killed her around 5:15 p.m. on November 27, 2013. The Daily News reported that the decision was only handed down this past August, almost three years after the accident, following multiple hearings and an appeal, and that Franco filed the lawsuit against the DMV last Friday.

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Stuy Town gets city’s first solar-powered bus shelter

Mar24 Solar powered bus shelter

Solar-powered bus shelter at Avenue C and 16th Street (Photo courtesy of DOT)

By Sabina Mollot

The city has installed its first solar-powered bus shelter, with a location outside Stuyvesant Town picked as the place for a pilot program.

According to a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, the project was being funded not by the city but a Paris-based company that runs outdoor advertising campaigns called JCDecaux. If the lighting works out well, the company will also pay for other transitions to solar panel-powered lighting at non-powered shelters throughout the city as part of a franchise agreement.

Currently, JCDecaux is responsible for 3,000 bus shelters throughout the five boroughs as well as 300 newsstands. The company is now in its 10th year of partnership with the city and handles installation and maintenance of street furniture.

Meanwhile, the new lighting outside Stuyvesant Town at the shelter on Avenue C and 16th Street comes two and a half years after an elderly woman was fatally struck nearby by a Con Ed truck. The woman, 88-year-old Stuyvesant Town resident Stella Huang, had attempted to cross the street in the dark.

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Two ST buildings left with no gas due to leak

By Sabina Mollot

Since October 31, a gas leak at 272 and 274 First Avenue has left residents without gas in their buildings. The laundry room has been out of use as well since then.

In a flyer that was posted by CompassRock on November 4, management explained that the shutdown was done by Con Ed so emergency repairs could be conducted on the main gas line.

The note to residents went on to say management was working with the utility to ensure that gas would be restored “as safely and as quickly as possible.”

However, the memo also said that gas isn’t expected to be turned on again until Con Ed approves each apartment line after repairs.

Sidney Alvarez, a spokesperson for Con Ed, said on the 31st, the utility had been called about a gas odor and upon arrival, inspectors found that there was a gas leak on the extension service traced to a gas meter room.

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Con Ed settles over accusations of sexual harassment, inequality

Con Edison building at 4 Irving Place

Con Edison building at 4 Irving Place

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Con Edison has agreed to a settlement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to resolve accusations of ongoing discrimination and sexual harassment against women working in field positions for the company.

The agreement requires that Con Ed reserve up to $3.8 million that will be distributed to over 300 female workers employed in field jobs through a claims process administered by the EEOC and the attorney general. A representative from Con Edison said that the utility had voluntarily entered into the settlement agreement to resolve the investigations that began in 2007 and the agreement resolves the investigation without findings of wrongdoing. However, complaints alleged that the company failed to take effective action to improve or prevent the discriminatory conditions. The women in field positions even reported that they faced retaliation when they complained to supervisors or to Con Edison’s Office of Diversity & Inclusion about their work conditions.

“I worked at Con Edison for thirteen years, primarily as an Inspector in the field,” Con Ed Inspector Kawana Howard said. “I loved my job, was good at what I did and took pride in the fact that I was helping to keep our city running. Yet over the years I faced gender-based discrimination from my some of my male supervisors and co-workers and was retaliated against when I complained, ultimately culminating in my recent termination.”

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Former Con Ed employee indicted for ax attacks, stabbing

NYPD photo of the weapon

NYPD photo of the weapon

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Former Con Ed employee Trevial Terry was indicted last Thursday for stabbing his ex-girlfriend in her office and then attacking two of his co-workers with an ax inside the Con Edison building where he worked. Terry, 40, has been charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with two counts of attempted murder in the second degree, as well as multiple counts of assault and attempted assault in the first degree and attempted assault in the second degree.

According to court records, Terry followed his 36-year-old ex-girlfriend to the Upper East Side building where she worked on June 22 at 2:25 p.m. and after he was allowed into the building’s lobby, stabbed her with a knife at least six times in the abdomen, side and buttocks. The Daily News reported at the time of his arrest that he and the victim, Alicia Sylvia, were in the middle of a custody battle over their child. She was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in serious but stable condition.

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Police arrest Con Ed employee for ax attacks, stabbing

A weapon allegedly used by Trevial Terry (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

A weapon allegedly used by Trevial Terry (Photo courtesy of NYPD)

By Sabina Mollot

Police have arrested a Con Ed employee who allegedly attacked three people on Monday afternoon, including the mother of his child, using an ax.

Trevial Terry, 40, who lives at 580 St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, is accused of stabbing the 35-year-old mother of his child at 135 East 64th Street. Officers, when arriving at the scene found the victim in the building’s vestibule bleeding from multiple stab wounds in her stomach and back. She told them that Terry had approached her, pushed her into the building’s vestibule and then stabbed her. She was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital in serious but stable condition.

According to the Daily News, the victim was Alicia Sylvia, and the two were in the midst of a custody battle. She’d been attacked at the building where she works.

Then later, Terry walked into the Con Ed building at 4 Irving Plaza where he’s worked for the past 15 years. His title is commercial service representative for the Department of Energy Services. Once there he headed to the 10th floor office and allegedly pulled out an ax when he saw a 49-year-old colleague and struck him in the face with it. A witness, a 40-year-old man, tried to help the victim, but then was struck in the arm by Terry who police said was using a “pointed tip hammer.”

Terry then attempted to flee by running down the stairs and into the parking lot, where officers arrested him. According to the Daily News, the cops had help from employees who’d chased him out of the building. A Times story stated that when Terry entered the office, he’d asked for a supervisor but was told the supervisor was unavailable. The two victims were taken to Bellevue Hospital where they were both listed in stable condition. Terry was also taken to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition.

He’s been charged with three counts of attempted murder, six counts of assault and four counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

Allan Drury, a spokesperson for Con Ed, said he didn’t know what would make the longtime employee snap and that as far as he knew there had been no prior incidents involving Terry. He said the victims’ injuries were non-life threatening.

An NYPD spokesperson said Terry has no prior arrests, unless they’ve been sealed.

Con Ed employees win industry award for East River fish protection project

Workers install equipment in the East River that reduces the plant’s impact on the  marine life. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed.)

Workers install equipment in the East River that reduces the plant’s impact on the marine life. (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

Two Con Ed employees have been recognized for developing a system that protects the fish in the East River from the utility’s steam and electric plant operations.

Gary Thorn, a section manager in Central Engineering, and Brian Brush, senior scientist in Environmental Health and Safety, were the winners of an industry award called the Technology Transfer Award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

The pair led a $36 million project to design a system of five screens with fine mesh panels to filter fish, eggs and larvae from the water cooling intake at the East River generating station off East 14th Street. Additionally, while the work had initially been expected to be completed by the end of 2014, it wound up being done over a year ahead of schedule, by the end of 2013. The project started in 2006 with testing and site evaluation and review of technologies.

“A lot of the early work consisted of collection of data like how many fish there were,” said Brush. “It was a good deal of fish, but it’s importance to distinguish that when we say fish the technology also protects eggs and larvae and they’re more abundant than actual fish.”

The screens, along with a fish-return system, reduce the plant’s impact on the river. The fish-return system uses a low-pressure spray to gently remove any aquatic organisms trapped on the screens and return them to the river.

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